What's up at the FSA Office?

by Joyce Davidshofer, Allamakee County Executive Director

The next Allamakee County Committee meeting will be Thursday, August 27 at 9 a.m. at the Allamakee County FSA Office conference room in Waukon.

State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement
This is your chance to seed down large areas of cropland to native habitats of Iowa.  The Gaining Ground for Wildlife initiative makes available a new continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) practice. It’s designed to restore native grasslands and wetlands where they will be the most beneficial for wildlife species. It’s specifically designed to increase populations of ring-necked pheasants, dickcissel, bobolink and eastern meadowlarks where their preferred habitats have been eliminated. As prairies and wetlands replace corn and soybean fields, these upland and wetland birds will have the nesting, brooding and winter cover needed to help sustain their populations.
The practice is available in portions of all counties near existing protected habitats. These areas are eligible and have a high priority, because wildlife species benefit most when there are large expanses of grasslands or wetlands.
Starting in August 2015, eligible producers can sign up at their local USDA Farm Service Agency. However, the sign-up is limited to 73,000 acres, “first-come; first-served.” The sign-up will end when all acres are under contract.
Eligible Practices:
Establish native grasses, restore wetlands and develop food plots. Enrollment is limited to habitat blocks with a minimum of 10 acres per tract if not adjacent to an existing (public or private) grassland/wetland complex. See NRCS office for eligible areas.
• Increase populations of ring-necked pheasant, dickcissel, bobolink and eastern meadowlarks;
• Improve, connect or create high quality grassland and wetland habitat;
• Provide nesting, brood and winter cover;
• Improve water quality;
• Reduce erosion
Rental Rate
• Based on maximum soil rental rate established for the three predominant soils within the contracted acres, plus an annual maintenance payment (Ask NRCS)
• 10 or 15 year contract length.
• Standard FSA 50% cost-share, plus 40% practice incentive payment to establish the practice = 90% Cost Share
• Sign-up bonus payment of an additional $100 per acre
• Land that was cropped or considered cropped four out of the six years from 2008 to 2013;
• Eligible cropland includes row crops, small grains and forage crops if in a rotation.
Contact the Allamakee County FSA Office if you have any questions.

June 15 - September 30: ARC/PLC sign-up for 2014/2015 program.
July 1 - September 30: 2016 MPP (Dairy) Program sign-up period.
September 7: FSA Office closed for Labor Day.

2014/2015 ARC/PLC Program Sign-up
With this new 2014 Farm Bill there were several steps in the new ARC/PLC program. Currently the last step is signing the contract(s) for 2014 and/or 2015 crop year. The ARC/PLC program signup period is June 15 - September 30, 2015.
With the deadline of September 30 fast approaching, producers who have not signed the ARC/PLC contract or needed signatures need to complete this last step before the deadline.
If you have any questions, contact the Allamakee County FSA Office at 563-568-2148.

2016 Margin Protection Program (MPP) for Dairy
The MPP program signup began July 1, 2015 and the deadline is September 30, 2015.
As a reminder, once producers who signed up for the 2015 MPP program year based on MPP regulations, they are required to sign up for the years 2016-2018.
Each year dairy producers will received a bump in their pounds from the previous year. The coverage election will need to be completed each year also. For example: in 2015 a producer elected to go $5.00 at 65% for $100 fee and a premium amount. In 2016 the producer chooses to go $4.00 @ 90% for $100. This is one example what dairy producers can do in the coming years.
If you have any questions in regards to this program or you are operating a new dairy, contact the county office.

Highly Erodible Land Initiative CRP Additional Acres
Iowa has been approved for an additional allocation of Highly Erodible Land Initiative (HELI). HELI provides an excellent opportunity for producers to enroll their most highly erodible acres and  also is an avenue for CRP participants to re-enroll expiring acres that if they met the HELI eligibility requirements. CRP acres on an expiring general tree practice are eligible if they meet the CP3 or CP3A standards, per the foresters review or are willing to bring the cover up to the standards according to the forestry plan.
The acres being offered will need to have a weighted Edibility Index (EI) greater than or equal to 20.
Contact the Allamakee County FSA Office as soon as possible if you are interested. Acre allotments for Iowa are limited.

Transition Incentives Program Reminder
The Agricultural Act of 2014 amendments to the Food Security Act of 1985, as amended, authorized $33 million for the voluntary transition of land enrolled under an expiring CRP contract from a retired or retiring owner or operator to a veteran, underserved, or beginning farmer or rancher to return the land to production for sustainable grazing or crop production.
To be considered eligible, veteran, underserved, or beginning farmers or ranchers and CRP participants must enroll in TIP during the period beginning one year before the CRP contract expiration date and September 30 of the year when the CRP contract is scheduled to expire.
If you have any questions on the TIP program contact the Allamakee County FSA Office at 563-568-2148.